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Gallery: Yesterday, Tadej, tomorrow

Will Strickson
16 Jul 2021

On Stage 18 of the 2021 Tour de France, Tadej Pogacar proved it's his world, we're just living in it

Let's be honest, Stage 18 of the 2021 Tour de France was a no-contest. A mountain procession for our omnipotent champion.

The day's breakaway barely managed to gain two minutes on the main group thanks to Bahrain Victorious – who had Matej Mohorič in the group up the road and Pello Bilbao chasing back to the peloton – pulling on the front to set up Wout Poels to take some KOM points up the Col du Tourmalet.

He eventually did just that, though it wasn't the full set of points that he wanted, and needed, to fend off his main rivals in that competition as despite Ineos Grenadiers pacing up the mountain, a couple of attacks came on the climb and David Gaudu led the race down the descent.

It's a shame that Gaudu has only come good at this late stage of the Tour, and it makes you wonder what could have been if he hadn't have been ill earlier in the race.

Then again, probably not much because this Tour, like the last one and probably like the next one, is about one man: Tadej Pogačar.

As the main favourites homed in on the finish line at the top of Luz Ardiden it was mostly a similar story to Stage 17, though without the attacks, with Pogačar, Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz again showing why they are the top three overall. Vingegaard said afterwards he didn't have good legs but it probably wouldn't have made much difference with a rampant Pogačar determined to take back-to-back stage victories.

In the end only Enric Mas (?!) actually attempted to beat the Slovenian to the line, but he didn't come near, to the extent that the yellow jersey had plenty of time to slow down to savour the victory unchallenged.

In the process he also bagged himself the Polka Dot jersey from Poels to secure three jerseys for the second year running. No green Tadej? Underperformance.

After today's flat stage all that remains is tomorrow's time-trial – which on current form Pogačar will win – and Sunday's final showdown on the Champs Élysées.

Following that, we'll look to an improved Vingegaard, a fit Primož Roglič, a confident Egan Bernal and the potential of riders like Remco Evenepoel and, say it quietly, Tom Pidcock, to make the Tour de France a proper competition again in the years to come.

Here are some of Cyclist's photographer Chris Auld's finest shots of the day:

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